I started my query journey differently than most of the Write Angle Crew. Before I focused on juvenile literature, I wrote for adults. I mostly penned and published short stories, poetry, essays and articles. I even had a monthly column in a fourteen county newsletter. For those projects, I submitted directly to editors.
When I began my juvenile lit journey, I continued this pattern and submitted my book manuscripts directly to editors. I’d heard that securing an agent was more difficult than securing a publishing deal. I also wanted to remain in control. Not to mention, a super-teeny part of me wanted closed publishing houses to lament their lost shot at my writing. Not my shining moment, I admit, but honesty isn’t often pretty.
At one point, I stumbled across AgentQuery Connect where several astute writers convinced me to check out the agent route. I did, liked what I saw and gained a whole new respect for agents, editors and even those stubbornly closed publishing houses.
So, what are the benefits of securing an agent versus subbing solo?
In my experience:
- My agent is contract savvy. I’m not, and don’t pretend to be. Not unless we’re talking potty training or preschool curriculum.
- He has inside contacts. I don’t. The closest publishing “in” I have is sitting two pews away from the owner of the local newspaper.
- He’s industry savvy. What I know about the writing biz would fill one paragraph of a twenty-seven-chapter novel. In this rapidly changing climate, I can’t possibly advocate for my best interests.
- I’m still shocked by this, but my agent loves my writing. Okay, that makes two of us, but his support and enthusiasm are amazing and inspiring on many levels.
- He was an editor. Me? Not so much. While I’ve got a pretty good grasp of the mechanics, I love having my manuscripts perused with a keen eye toward plot, character and story arc. I’m a better writer for my agent’s suggestions and carefully posed questions.
- He has time to shop my writing. With my busy personal and professional life, I have precious few moments to devote to my craft. Having an agent frees up my time and allows me to be a writer.
In your experience, what are the pros and cons to securing an agent? What can an agent do for you that you can’t accomplish on your own?